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Dean’s Award 2023 – Tanesha Rose Sullins, Sac State star scholar and sprinter, races to the finish line

Tanesha Rose Sullins, a Health Science major, is the Dean's Award recipient for the College of Health and Human Services. (Sacramento State/Andrea Price)

Tanesha Rose Sullins, once a star sprinter, will cross Sacramento State’s finish line at Commencement as one of the University’s top students, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Health Science.

Sullins excelled inside and outside the classroom and is the recipient of the College of Health and Human Services 2023 Dean’s Award. Deans’ Awards are given annually at Commencement to seven outstanding graduating students, one for each of Sac State’s academic colleges.

A transfer student from Sacramento City College, where she earned two degrees and was a member of the track and field team, Sullins plans a career as a nurse or nurse practitioner.

Growing up in the Sacramento area, Sullins took an early interest in medical science.

“During routine medical visits, I remember noticing all of the equipment and watching the doctors and nurses taking care of patients,” she said. At the same time, she developed a love of running.

“I really love to race,” she said. “It’s the competitive nature in me.”

That mindset also served her well at Sac State, where she achieved stellar grades and engaged with a wide variety of campus programs, including the Educational Opportunity Program, the Associated Students Inc. Food Pantry, and Student Health and Counseling services.

Her dedication to both her studies and extracurricular activities meant she had to reluctantly give up competitive racing, but that focus also allowed her to graduate in a timely manner.

“I admire that (Sullins) wants to put her passion and drive to use for the betterment of others. I have no doubt that with her work ethic, intellect, and drive, she will fulfill these dreams.” -- William Gow, assistant professor of Ethnic Studies

William Gow, an Ethnic Studies professor who Sullins considers a mentor, said she “distinguished herself through her leadership, drive, and productivity” in his Introduction to Asian American Studies course. Currently, Sullins works as an independent certified nurse assistant, providing care at various health facilities in the Sacramento area.

“She was among the strongest students in her class,” even while working part time and engaging in other activities, Gow said.

“I admire that she wants to put her passion and drive to use for the betterment of others,” he said. “I have no doubt that with her work ethic, intellect, and drive, she will fulfill these dreams.”

Sullins credits her father, Thomas, for instilling in her the motivation and determination to get her degree, even when she encountered roadblocks such as impacted courses and an overwhelming schedule.

“He encouraged me to reach for the stars,” she said. “When I got discouraged, he was always there to tell me everything was going to be OK. You’ve just got to keep taking the punches and getting up again.”

In July, Sullins plans to begin pursuing a master’s degree in Nursing at UC Davis, but she always will look back on her career at Sac State with gratefulness, she said.

Sullins said she still misses competitive running, but she will never regret her decision to give up her track and field career to focus on academics and other activities at Sac State – “the diversity and inclusion at Sac State, the availability of professors, the social environment.”

“Sac State was a beautiful, phenomenal, totally wonderful experience,” she said. “Totally worth it.”

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About Cynthia Hubert

Cynthia Hubert came to Sacramento State in November 2018 after an award-winning career writing for the Sacramento Bee. Cynthia believes everyone has a good story. She lives in East Sacramento with her two cats, who enjoy bird-watching from their perch next to the living-room window.

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